The 34-day holdout of Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson came to end on Thursday, with the three-time Pro Bowler agreeing to terms on a four-year, $53.5 million extension that includes $30 million in guaranteed money.
Johnson had two years and $2.025 million remaining on his rookie contract, pushing the total value of the deal to $55.525 million over the next six seasons. While the "new money" in the contract amounts to $13.375 million per year over the four new seasons of the contract, the average per year (APY) of the full, six-year deal is $9.254 million. In terms of APY, St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson had the previous high at the position with his five-year, $43.097 million extension ($8.619M APY) from 2008, a figure that DeAngelo Williams approached with his five-year, $43 million contract ($8.6M APY) with the Carolina Panthers this offseason.
Important benchmarks in any new contract are 1.) guaranteed money, 2.) total of the first three years of the deal (3-Year APY), and 3.) the Year One payout.
The Williams deal included $21 million in guarantees, $30 million over the first three seasons, and a $19.5 million cash payout in Year One.
Johnson's $30 million guarantee far exceeds what Williams was guaranteed by the Panthers, and surpasses the $26.0425 million in guarantees Darren McFadden received from the Oakland Raiders as the fourth overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft. Johnson will also receive $31 million over the first three years of the deal, Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network reports, which is $1 million more than Williams received from the Panthers. The $10.3 million 3-Year APY is now tops among NFL running backs, a figure that Johnson's agent, Joel Segal, likely targeted in this extension.
The one area Johnson's deal comes up short in is first-year cash payout. Williams' contract included a $16 million signing bonus, none of which was deferred, and a $3.5 million base salary for a total of $19.5 million. La Canfora reports that Johnson will take home $13 million in 2011, which is far less than Williams' first-year payout, but far more than the $1.065 million in base salary Johnson was scheduled to make in 2011.
Whatever benchmarks the Johnson deal established are likely to be shattered by Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, a four-time Pro Bowler who is scheduled to earn $10.72 million in base salary in 2011, the final year of his rookie contract.